After attending the lecture, the Upper Sixth Form Biology and Psychology students continued with Brain Day. Dr Sutton spoke in depth about brain development, function and disfunction. He gave the students the opportunity to learn some Second and Third Year Degree level information on the function of synapses and secondary messenger systems. The day culminated with the students participating in the dissection of a sheep’s brain, giving them the rare opportunity to see for real the actual structures within the brain which they had been studying.
Sixth Form Holly reported ‘Such a great day!! Really interesting to build on our A Level knowledge and see where this could lead to. Very inspiring for those of us planning to study Biology at university. Interesting and detailed lectures, and a brilliant dissection.’
Emma said ‘It was very interesting and Dr Sutton was very enthusiastic. It really helped me understand further the workings of the brain.’
Georgina added ‘I thought the brain day was really interesting and inspiring to see and learn about some of the really new developments showing how exciting science currently is and how much more that is yet to be discovered about the brain.’
Ms Treanor reports ‘A Level Geographers have been investigating coastal systems this week along the Dorset Heritage Coastline. Using Swanage as our base, we were able to travel to Lulworth and Durdle Door and then spend a day collecting psammosere data at Studland. On our way home we stopped in Southampton to investigate urban regeneration and practise human geography related data collection techniques. The girls are now well prepared for their own independent investigations!’
Miss Brailey reports ‘On Wednesday, Sixth Formers Charne, Martha, Katie and Hannah gave a ten minute presentation on their chosen Heroine of Science, Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock, MBE, at the University of Reading’s annual event. The girls met and interviewed Dr Aderin-Pocock at this year’s Huxley Lecture, and were inspired by her work both in the field of Space Science and her educational work promoting science to young people, particularly girls. After their session the girls listened to other schools’ presentations of their Heroines of Science, as well as having a guest lecture from the University of Reading’s Dr Ann Chippindale on her work, Sparkling Cyanide, which was based on her current research. A great afternoon!
At the beginning of the month, a small group of the First, Second and Third Formers took part in a SATRO schools problem solving event at George Abbot School. SATRO is an educational charity and social enterprise aimed at inspiring children in all aspects of the working world, particularly Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM). The challenge facing our problem solvers was to build, in a ninety minute time limit, a free standing structure using the resources provided. Points were given for both the vertical and horizontal distance from the base, furthermore points were quadrupled if the structure had a functioning light at its extremity. As this first heat was subsequently taking place at other locations, there had been a reporting blackout until now. Mrs Troup reports ‘Our girls were fine competitors and tackled the task with enthusiasm. We are pleased to say that, although the girls are not progressing to the next round, they worked really hard, succeeded in having a working lightbulb and received full marks for both their initial plan and for gaining maximum height. Well done!’
The Assembly Hall roof was raised on Tuesday night by Dr Maggie Aderin Pocock, MBE, when she inspired us all to ‘Reach for the Stars’. In a speech completely aligned with Prior’s Field’s philosophy, Maggie encouraged the audience to dream big and aim high, sharing how this ethos had enabled her to achieve so much in her life. She recounted her childhood, and underlined that by being an opportunist, she has opened many doors for herself – even fulfilling childhood dreams of meeting the Clangers and Star Trek actress Nichelle Nichols (Uhura)! In a lecture brimming with humour and humility, Maggie explained that many scientific careers are not attracting girls and offered a three pronged approach to plug that gap – role models, relevance and creating science wonder.
She certainly inspired the entire audience to find their inner scientist, and has earned her place in the Hall of Fame that she mentioned needs to recognise more female scientific idols. After the lecture, Maggie answered questions from the enthusiastic audience, and happily took part in a book signing, spending over an hour chatting with audience members.
Dr Rachel Dobson led a fascinating talk about her career as a Biomedical Scientist to a room full of attentive students on Monday. She spoke with passion about her chosen field of academic research, sharing the steps and decisions she took to become a Biomedical Researcher at Cambridge University. The talk was particularly useful for those girls considering any research based career, as Rachel shared her experience of building an impressive CV by finding summer placements whilst at university and entering relevant competitions. She offered practical advice, warning the audience of the importance of choosing a university course as it will immediately impact whether they pursue a career in academia or the NHS. She gave an insight into the shape of her working day including the skills and techniques used, and referred to the issue of funding within research. Our thanks to Rachel for such a practical, valuable and interesting session. We encourage the girls to attend one or more of the forthcoming Talks, which can be booked on FROG.
Over seventy budding GCSE Scientists headed to London on Monday for a stimulating Science in Action conference which featured a fascinating talk by Professor Robert Winston on the ‘Wonder of Life’ and ethical issues surrounding embryos. A Winter Wonderland at the Devil’s Punchbowl was the inspiration for our intrepid art scholars who were privileged to work with Landscape artist Mark Spray. He explained to the girls how important it is to embrace the physicality and sounds of a landscape before attempting to capture its essence on canvas and to use materials within it, such as twigs and leaves to apply paint and chalk.